Friday, July 15, 2011
[Book Review] ALONE TOGETHER by Sherry Turkle
Laura reviews ALONE TOGETHER: WHY WE EXPECT MORE FROM TECHNOLOGY AND LESS FROM EACH OTHER by Sherry Turkle (Basic Books, 2011)
Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze’ professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, as well as the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. This book is the third in a trilogy which includes The Second Self and Life on the Screen, but it can be enjoyed on its own.
The title caught my attention and appealed to a sense of apprehension about the evolution of technology and how it is affecting human civilization, including how some people seem to experience a detachment from other people and a lack of purpose in living their life. I wanted to better understand people’s attachment to technologies I don’t use and to obtain some persuasive arguments for others to use them less.
Several themes are examined, supported by Ms. Turkle’s interviews over about 15 years, of hundreds of children and adults about the use of robots, internet, email, cell phones, etc. I found the discussion of the following trends caused by technology most disturbing: changes in relationships and communication among friends and family, lack of privacy and community, and lack of sensitivity to (and understanding of) the wants and needs of others.
But all is not lost. Reading this book reminded me of how I felt when reading Future Shock by Alvin Toffler back in the 1970s. I reached the same conclusion then as now, that although one person usually has limited impact on changing the world, as individuals we have an incredible impact on how we choose to accept and use technologies to our best advantage to help us live a happy and fulfilling life.
Laura Salehi, Bartlett Branch